Tuesday, July 28, 2009

and then the land was taken

I thought I would write some thoughts after finishing Redemption Songs A life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki. I was left with a great feeling of sadness. So much was hoped for: so much belief and faith. Yet, in the end, the tide came in and the land was lost. These are just some small thoughts that have stuck in my head. Obviously a lot could be written.

I found the Old and New Testament biblical references difficult to digest. I am not a christian. But as I was reading, I began to see the deeper picture. The real battle was of mana and atua. IMO Te Kooti skillfully wove maori atua and christian gods into a new form. And that new form, made up of a synthesis of maori/christian/jewish, then battled with the existing christian gods of the colonizers. There was a realization that you had to fight fire with fire. You had to use your enemies strength against themselves. Quotes below from Redemption Songs.

Details of how the land was taken were harrowing. When Donald Mclean arrived in 1865 at Turanga his terms to the people were,All maori had to take an oath of allegiance; all malefactors and those who had ‘fought against the government’ were to be surrendered; everyone who did not belong to the district was to be expelled; and all arms were to be surrendered. If these terms were not complied with, then the ‘lands of the promoters of disturbance’ would be confiscated.” But, as was always the case, the decisions’ behind the facade were always to get the land.

In 1868 another confiscation Act was passed.
This was the East Coast Act, which stated that, because a considerable number of natives in the district had been or were in rebellion, it was proper that land should be taken. Anyone who had been engaged in rebellion, singly or cojointly, or had counseled or advised such acts since 1863, would not be permitted to obtain title in tribal land. Moreover, the court was empowered to divide tribal land and to confiscate any that had belonged to ‘rebels’; it was purposefully different from the previous legislation in that it created an ostensibly acceptable framework for establishing claims to ownership, as well as being confiscatory. It aimed to defuse the protests by maori that the court was simply land-taking, in order to gain their participation in its processes. In fact, it created an environment where Maori contested ownership rights with one another. At the same time it sought to curtail any movement of sympathy for the whakarau by defining all supporters as ‘rebels’ and then punishing them by stripping them of their land. In such a manner, Te Kooti, along with so many others, was rendered landless.

This is where it all began. This process of colonizing maori and taking all of the resources can be traced back to starting points like this. The law. The law is written by those who wish to use the law to get some gain for themselves. The law is not infallible. It is written by people, and because it is written by people, it can be rewritten. The law is not the law when it deprives people of their rights. That law is false. This is where some of my sadness while reading the book, comes from.

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